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Post Info TOPIC: Species in Focus - Greenfinch

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Species in Focus - Greenfinch

At the time of our last atlas publication (BBGM) - it was reported that "of all the finches the Greenfinch has penetrated furthest into our towns". One wonders if that particular accolade might now have been taken over by the Goldfinch? We'll all have to wait a few years yet to find out, when the latest results from our current atlas project are eventually revealed. My guess is that it might be a closely fought battle! So how are we actually doing for Greenfinch records on our current GM Breeding Birds Atlas project? The three quarter term report might read - "making some progress but could do better"! At the end of 2010, the Greenfinch had been recorded as a confirmed breeding species in 87 tetrads, which is only 58% of the BBGM total of 149 tetrads.

What are the reasons we may have less records of confirmed breeding at this stage of the atlas project than we might have expected? In recent times, the Greenfinch in particular, has sadly been the subject of many reports which indicated that birds were suffering and dying from the disease Trichomonosis. Do we have less records because this disease has affected numbers in GM throughout the duration of our atlas project or has it just become so numerous and common that we have become blasť about it and are merely overlooking it? To help answer this question, assistance is therefore needed in filling in the gaps in the records on our Greenfinch database.

The Greenfinch really is one of our most noticeable and widespread breeding birds, with an extended breeding season, with clutches generally completed from late April to mid-August. The species is generally double brooded and nests are usually against the trunk or up against a strong fork of a dense bush or small tree (often in hedge or creeper) with conifers or other evergreens slightly preferred, especially so earlier in the breeding season. The easiest time to confirm breeding is certainly when the young have recently left the nest and are actively and vocally begging to be fed by the parent birds. The fledgling juvenile calls are very distinctive and in the following link they can be clearly heard accompanied by the calls of an adult bird - click here. An adult bird can sometimes be observed feeding their young by regurgitating food that they have collected for them. There is some suggestion that breeding might be easier to prove later in the season, as some studies have indicated that the young from the first brood are fed by the adults for a considerably shorter time span than those of a last brood. Logic might therefore suggest that young that are dependent on adults for a greater length of time might naturally become more conspicuous to us bird watchers, than those that get a shortened period of post-fledging attention from their parents.

The data to date for our current atlas bears out the above, with over 85% of all confirmed breeding records being for sightings of adults with fledged but still dependent young (code FL). Records were received between 16th May and 26th August. This is definitely one of those species worth keeping an eye out for after the "official" end of the breeding season - i.e. the 31st July. Don't forget that all records of breeding activity, at whatever time of the year they are observed, will be of great value to our atlas project.

Once again, good luck and many thanks for your help.

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